Mails: Why Man United must sign Wijnaldum

Date published: Friday 13th May 2016 9:53

It’s been a grand old week for mails. Keep it up and send your thoughts to And don’t forget to read the latest Mailbox guest, from Jonathan R. Smith on recovering from an ACL injury.


Poor Roberto
Every Everton fan I know is just relieved. Not delighted, not shocked, just relieved.

I think that emotion sums up where we were at better than anything else. Onwards and upwards, Frank De Boer’s blue and white army?
Joe, EFC


Shameful Everton
I went to the Stadium of Light last night as a neutral hoping for nothing more than a good game and a good atmosphere.

I left angry at just how little effort Everton put in, I felt awful for their travelling fans, it took ‘on the beach’ to a whole new level and some players especially stood out.

Ross Barkley: Attitude was awful, effort was minimal and the idea that he could end up starting for England in a major tournament is a scary prospect.

John Stones: In fairness he did try, but the two Kone goals were down to shambolic defending, for the 3rd goal it seemed as if the ball spent an eternity bouncing in the 6 yard box before Kone put it in, I think Euro 2016 is one major tournament too early for him to be a starter.

Joel Robles: If Martinez somehow survives (he won’t) he’ll be the first player out the door, his heart wasn’t in it, he effectively let the first one in without trying to stop it, he nearly got lobbed by (I think) Defoe when he should have beat him to the ball comfortably, and then there’s the whole Instagram saga… If I was Pellegrini/Moyes (delete as appropriate) coming into Goodison next season and I’d seen that attitude, I’d have him sold before Tim Howard landed in America.

Romelu Lukaku: Never seen a more isolated striker in any Premier League game ever. He’s going to leave in Summer, and I’m not surprised.

The Sunderland team were nothing special and all of the goals were scrappy, but fair play to Younes Kaboul who was the best player on the pitch by a mile. If he stays fit, Sunderland have a gem of a bargain.
Andrei (I’m a Blackpool fan), Newcastle


De Boer-faced cheek of it
May 9, 2016 – Frank De Boer’s agent reveals De Boer would love to manage a team like Everton.

May 11, 2016 – Frank De Boer quits as Ajax manager ready for ‘something else’.

May 12, 2016 – Everton confirm sacking of Roberto Martinez as manager.

Hmmmm…something’s up here.
Scott (We’ll end up with Mark Hughes, won’t we) Nolan, EFC


Worst for all parties
Looking at the mess that is now Everton, has there ever been a manager leaving for another club that went so drastically wrong for both clubs. Moyes to United, Martinez in to replace him – both teams ending up far worse off. And that’s not even considering what happened Wigan.
RoyO Auckland


Wijnaldum to United
Transfer predictions for Summer 2017

Seeing the first few transfer predictions in the mailbox today made me want to get my shout in early:

Georginio Wijnaldum: deal of the summer.

He’d cost 12-15million as I’m guessing Newcastle will be keen to offload their heavy earners fast. He’s not going to be at the Euros so will have a full pre-season wherever he goes. He’s quick, he’s strong, can pass and shoot with both feet and his head; explosive down the center or out wide; he’s a regular international player… clearly, I’m struggling to see the downsides of his ability (note: ability, not form).

If, somehow, LVG makes it past June while still being in charge of Manchester United, he should jump all over this transfer. Wijnaldum is basically a Champions League-quality version of (the Championship-quality) Jesse Lingard. Of the two ‘superstars’ to have left PSV last summer, Memphis Depay had not been the one to have been decent for any part of the season.

Although, given that his ambitions caused him to leave PSV (Champions of the Netherlands, Champions League-bound) for Newcastle (to play for Mike Can’t-be-arsedly and Schteve); given that he has been inconsistent for large parts of the season; given that he’s an important member of a now-relegated team, perhaps he’s far more of a gamble than what meets my eye? PSV and Newcastle fans would be able to tell me more but as things stand, anyone to ‘pass up’ a player like Wijnaldum would have to have a good reason as to why. After all, one performance with 4 goals was enough to earn Arshavin another few seasons in the EPL, wasn’t it?
Emad MUFC Boston
Ps: Ed Woodard, understand that I think United could use Gigi Wijnaldum even if LVG isn’t still in charge… hopefully Ryan Giggs will be smart enough to sanction the deal, too.


More United transfer predictors
Enjoyed Ted’s mail on predicting Man United’s transfer summer but more was mentioned of players he’d like to see sold rather than possible transfers in.

It’s always tough creating these mails without readers assuming all knowledge is pooled from a video game, but here goes.

I do completely agree that we won’t attract players like Varane, Godin or Kroos and talk of them is just daft however thrilling it would actually be to sign them.

I disagree with Laporte though, I think United could quite easily attract him. There are obviously better options available to him if he wants to remain in Spain and Juve, Bayern and Man City would be strong temptations too but he’s not at an elite level just yet.

He wouldn’t get ahead of Varane at Real and Bayern have just signed Hummels to be Boateng’s partner, Juve have an abundance of centre backs both young and old and City already have two £30m+ centre backs along with Kompany.

In terms of taking a step up in his career but also being a guarunteed first team starter to continue his development I think United are well suited. So are Arsenal really come to think of it but you’d imagine they can’t/wouldn’t offer the same wages.

Jose Maria Gimenez should be bought whatever fee Atletico demand. The kid will be one of the games best in future and would bring some much needed physicality and aggression to our back 4. Will be much easier to negotiate with than Godin.

Kalidou Koulibaly has come on tremendous amounts since joining Napoli and become one of Serie A’s best defenders. He’s an absolute bruiser and the perfect partner for Smalling, can sometimes look a little ungainly but intimidates majority of forwards that play against him.

Kostas Manolas has had a supreme season but plays for a Roma side that have blown a few golden opportunities to win the league in recent seasons, will probably continue to fall behind Juve and often stumble in the Champions League.

Van Dijk would be an improvement on Blind.

In terms of midfielders, even after buying Schneiderlin, Basti and Herrera we lack creativity from the middle, Carrick is still our best centre mid.
I’ll just list as this is getting on a bit now. Midfielders (central not #10s) that would be both interested in joining and improve the side are Pjanic, Carvalho, Xhaka, Pastore (at PSG yes but hardly plays), Nainggolan maybe Parejo? The absolute ideal signing here in my opinion is Koke but there’s no chance.

Right wingers (assuming Depay will nail down the LW at some pont) include Inaki Williams who is a Spanish Martial, Bellarabi, Mane, 2nd chance at Lucas Moura who isn’t a nailed on first teamer at PSG…..this list could go on for quiet a while due to United’s current best in this position being Lingard.

Hope we can see some more recommendations!
Ben (plleeaassseeeee Koke) Gleeson.


So, United transfer targets time is it?

They need a central defender, a right back, a holding midfielder, a controlling midfielder and a striker.

Here’s my list.

My central defender target would be Hummels (26, BvD)

My right back target would be Fabinho (21, Monaco)

My holding midfielder target would be Gundogan (24, BvD)

My controlling midfielder target would be Rabiot (20, PSG)

My striker target would be Lacazette (23, Lyons)

What’s that you say? Hummels has moved already and the ages are a year out?

That’s because this is the same list of issues that need solving as this time last year.


Exactly, to the week, one year ago.

None of the problems were solved, no progress has been made and the team is now worse than it was then.

Oh excuse me, there is some progress. When I sent this in a year ago, Di Maria was still at United. He isn’t now. So they also need an attacking midfielder.

Get. Van Gaal. Out.
Tim Sutton (2017/18, Fulham for the Premier League title, get on it now)


And an Arsenal one…
After seeing the Arsenal Transfer predictor yesterday, and enjoying the optimism in spite of the long standing evidence, I thought I would write my own. Being a City fan, I have no right to do this, I know. I am also aware that I have written a few e-mails bashing Arsenal and Wenger lately. This is however, out of love. I’ve always had a soft spot for Arsenal and also quite like Wenger, hence and however, the last couple of seasons have really pissed me off. This season in particular. Wenger needs to get a grip, or move upstairs. I’m sure the banks would understand…

GOALKEEPER: £10 million keeper signed last summer, who Wenger kept leaving out of the team in big games to prove some kind of point. Using him properly in all of the important games next season would be like a new signing! Ospina and Szczesny as backup; one or both of these will probably leave, to be replaced in the squad by youth players. Excellent mentality – very, very mentally strong indeed. No actual signings needed here.

DEFENCE: Bellerin and Debuchy at right back, Dubuchy to leave. Jenkinson and Chambers both English, injured and ready to be like new signings or loaned out. Gabriel, Koscielny, Mertesaker at centre back – no combination of them will ever be consistently good enough to win the Premier League or Champions League, but in certain games look like they might one day be. The excellent Monreal and the average but English Gibbs in reserve at left back. So, eight first team level players for next season, at a push two or three good enough to win a title, and at least four of them with injury records that ensure regular new signing status. All have a great mentality, very strong. Plenty to have faith in despite evidence.

One GENUINE top class centre back who isn’t injury prone or slow, and is capable of learning to speak English or for that matter of gaining a rudimentary understanding of any language that allows effective communication with the rest of the defence could fix the problem. Rumoured interest in young centre back Rob Holding of Bolton, who looks like a great candidate for a reserve right back with totally the wrong physique and style of play for the position, leaving him at risk of muscle fatigue injuries, and of losing all his confidence due to constantly being played out of position.

MIDFIELD: Xhaka rumoured to be joining at the moment as there are a few season tickets left, may or may not actually sign. May or may not actually be good enough even if he does. Coquelin, Eleny decent players with potential to improve. Coquelin got a really good medium term injury this season that meant that he was like a new signing again – could bode well for the future. Potentially strong centre of midfield there, two new signings and one who has been like a new signing two years in a row now. Ramsay has class however, needs a run of games as the main man at number 10. Sadly, Ozil is playing in his position and he’s crap anywhere else. Wilshere will never be fit ever; but is either going to be, or actually is like a new signing almost all the time, so perfect. Important he doesn’t play much before the Euros or he will get injured immediately and won’t go to the Euros, get injured, and vitally, give Wenger something to be bitter about.

Cazorla, if he stays, has been injured for ages and so will be like a new signing. Until he gets injured again. Oxlade-Chamberlain will eventually be a midfielder, once he becomes in any way competent. When he does, it will be like a new signing and he has a massive face; hence, great at selfies. If everyone was fit and on-form at the same time, great midfield (potentially). Plenty to have faith in there, and obviously, mentally, very, very strong indeed. Xhaka in, but nothing else.

STRIKERS (fake): Sanchez isn’t a striker, but we can say he is to make it seem like Arsenal have any good ones on the books at all. He wants to leave but probably won’t. Has been frustratingly hard to injure but Wenger managed it. Wallcott has a contract and so is useless at present, but when it starts to run out, will be like a new signing. Amazingly at 27, still has all the potential he exhibited at 18, which is something to put your faith in. Could be sold if the Ox doesn’t leave however, as the Ox is almost as good at hanging on to his potential as Wallcott, rendering one of them redundant. Welbeck has got himself injured again, and so is going to be like a new signing. He is especially good, as not only is he like a new winger every six months, but also, is potentially a striker to eventually be better than Giroud – someone to have faith in as well as anticipate. Honourable mentions to Gnabry and Campbell, who aren’t good enough for Arsenal but have provided lots of potential, in which to have faith. Colossi of mental strength, the lot of them, obviously.

Nothing needed here as fake striker isn’t actually a position, and Arsenal already have a fuck load of them.

STRIKERS (real): Giroud, a player to put your faith in without the risk of ever needing to take it out. Alex Iwobi isn’t really a winger and is patently too good to be a fake striker. Vitally, he has also emerged just in time to put faith in, which means Wenger will not need to sign any strikers this year! The blinding strength of their collective mentality almost doesn’t need mentioning, but, like Wenger, I will drone on and on about it anyway! If you could see my eyes, the gleam in them would be slightly smug, and yet also slightly deranged.

Rumoured interest in lots of players that won’t be signed, as there are a few season tickets left. Sadly for the PR department, Benzema has had to be dropped from the media toolkit, as he has allegedly got himself embroiled in some unsavoury business, plus, Arsenal fans are subconsciously beginning to filter his name from their conscious recognition through over use.

So, my money is on Granit Xhaka coming in, and at best, one other player; if it isn’t Holding, then it won’t be any of the names mentioned to date.

Ben, MCFC, Manchester.


Falcao to Liverpool
I’m a romantic at heart when it comes to Football, but please don’t tell the misses!

When Fowler returned to Liverpool I was in dreamland. I’d always had notions that God would return as some point. I also lowered the bar in that I considered forgiving Owen for joining Real Madrid (European heavyweights the b***tard) when gossip came around of him returning to the premiership. Only for Monotone Michael to dump on my ideology by joining Newcastle, then grind it into dust by rocking up at Old Trafford later on. No wonder nobody likes the guy!

I even harboured hopes of El Nino returning to us one day. Yes he won almost everything at Chelsea bar the plaudits and hearts and minds of the fans. Money does talk in Football (see Owen) but now if you offered Torres to have stayed or returned at Liverpool, I bet he would have ‘suarezed’ your hand off.

Which brings me to my overdue point. I’m labouring as well as harbouring! I want Falcao at Liverpool. I’m not going to roll out the old ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’ line as Rooney has single-handedly put paid to that worn out cliche. Like Torres, he seems like the type of player who needed an arm around the shoulder, or better still – one of those Klopp hugs. For Torres & Mourinho, see Falcao, LVG & Mourinho. They’re more of an arm round the neck kinda guys.

I know we have Ings, Sturridge (hopefully), Origi and Benteke (on borrowed time) but room can be made for Falcao and I believe there is a world class striker underneath all that shattered confidence. And who better to bring it out than Klopp. Making Allen into the Welsh Xavi, Milner into a platinum Swiss army knife, and Ligue 1 worst voted player into an promising player – too name just a few!

Yes, I said i was Romantic, Realistic not so much!
Brett (Can we make #BannersIN a thing) LFC



A stripped-parts XI
Poor old Dale May, Swindon Wengerite. If he thinks Arsenal might be in for Rodriguez, Dybala and Coman this summer, he’s going to be absolutely miserable by the end of August. I’m just happy that it looks like we’re signing an outfield player at all. Bolton fans, can Rob Holding do a job up front?

Anyway, the transfer talk and analysis of the Newcastle squad got me thinking, most distastefully, about what players might be plundered from the relegated sides. As it’s F365, I thought it best to put it in a Stripped for Parts XI.

GK – Tim Krul. Greasy-haired sh*thouse? Yes. Premier League standard keeper? Also yes. Could probably get a pretty good gig on the continent.
RB – Daryl Janmaat. Would literally punch through walls to avoid relegation, if reports are to be believed. Played in Newcastle’s back four with the air of a mortified onlooker.
CB – Timm Klose (c). Managed, somehow, to excel in a Norwich defence that was a f*cking circus prior to his arrival and after his injury. How many teams have ever had two Tim(m)s in the line up?
CB – er… Chancel Mbemba? Seriously, if you wondered why Villa, Norwich and Toon went down, look at the centre backs.
LB – Jordan Amavi. Probably Villa’s player of the season. Played 10 league games.
MID – Jonjo Shelvey. I don’t care how much of a liability Jonjo is, he’s a misunderstoof genius and the Super Furry Animals should write a song about him.
MID – Moussa Sissoko. Dynamic/bit of a luxury French midfielder who’d definitely be better in front of a less flaky defence.
MID – Gino Wijnaldum. Such a lovely, handsome young man. Arsene, sign him up, he really is lovely.
RW – Andros Townsend. The only Newcastle player to have enhanced his reputation this season. Can’t see him cementing his Geordie messiah tag by sticking around.
LW – Nathan Redmond. Young, English, more than capable substitute for Stoke.
CF – Aleksandar Mitrovic. A big, mad lump of a centre forward. I can see another Premier League team gambling on him actually being good enough, and quite possibly regretting it.

Subs – Ruddy, Clark (the centre backs really are rotten), Olsson (the full backs aren’t much better), Brady, Hoolahan, Ayew, Perez.

Conclusions from my musings: Newcastle should never have gone down; Norwich could well come straight back up; Villa are very bad (and will probably beat us on Sunday).
Will O’Doherty


Arsenal in advance
I’m seriously thinking of taking next season off as circumstances conspire to ensure Arsenal are heading into yet another groundhog season.

Keeping Wenger on? check. Being linked with an expensive attacking midfielder rather than the striker we’ve been calling out for for years? check. Important player already ruled out until most likely next Spring? check.

So in the interests of saving us both a whole lot of time – here’s what I would have sent in over the next year.

August – where’s the striker? you were supposed to get a striker? the season’s starting and we still don’t have a striker?

Transfer window closes – where’s the striker? you were supposed to get a striker? and we still don’t have a striker?

November – You didn’t sign a striker and that’s why we’re getting turned over by these minnows in the Champions League – you’ve overplayed Giroud and great – he’s now out until February.

December – this is getting ridiculous now – what is the point of Theo Walcott?

January and another transfer window closes – where’s the striker? you were supposed to get a striker? and we still don’t have a striker?

March – You didn’t sign a striker and that’s why we’re out of the Champions League and FA Cup

April – run of form but no this does not mean this team has great mentality – they’re just pushing for top 4 when the pressure’s off

May – What do you mean you’re giving him a new contract?

See everyone in a year’s time – hopefully.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


More on the ’94 World Cup
I went to the 1994 World Cup in USA. I was 29. Do the math, as they do indeed say over there.

Memories memories

Passing through immigration at Chicago airport, the guy asked us why we coming to the US. We said to watch the football (well OK we said soccer to keep on his good side), and he said but England aren’t in it! We got talking a bit and he told us that in the US the 3 teams they had most security worries about in advance of the tournament were Iran, Iraq and England.

(And then we watched the OJ Simpson car chase live on TV in the airport.)

Anyway, we’ve got friends in Texas, so we stayed in Dallas and watched 4 games there.

Germany 3 S Korea 2

Klinsmann was fantastic. All the German fans seemed to be perfect specimen Jurgen Kohler lookalikes, complete with pornstar moustaches. One of my mates pointed out that Germany were flagging in the heat, and sure enough it went from 3-0 at half-time to 3-2 but they held on. My memory is that we were looking forward to seeing the great Lothar Matthaus but he was injured. But Wikipedia shows he did actually play, so I guess it must have been somewhere in his boring transition phase from midfield legend to defensive liability.

Argentina 0 Bulgaria 2

We’re gonna see Maradona! We’re gonna see Maradona! OMG we’re only gonna see f***ing Maradona! Er, no we’re not, he’s just got banned for failing a drugs test. OK then, we’ll make do with Batistuta, he’s just scored a hat-trick in the previous game. Hang ‘on, why’s he spending the whole match just diving and moaning? On the other hand, that Stoichkov bloke looks pretty good – scored an ace goal then ended up playing left back when they went down to 10 men. And my mate kept trying to convince us that Abel Balbo was a better footballer’s name than Marco van Basten. No chance.

Sweden 3 Saudi Arabia 1

Sweden had an ace midfield including Schwarz, Thern and Brolin. So Sheffield Wednesday bought the other one. But my main memory of this one is spotting a bare-chested bronzed Adonis, Ray Wilkins, getting back to his seat after half-time and settling down anonymously in a crowd of Yanks and Swedes, to be greeted with “Yoo-hoo, Bu-uuuutch!”. But instead of giving us some verbals back, or just blanking us, he actually came up and talked to us for a few minutes about the tournament and who he fancied to win it (Italy). My word, what a lovely man.

Brazil 3 Netherlands 2

Youtube it. I was there.

And for all these games, the country with the most fans, comfortably outnumbering anybody else at least 2 to 1? Yes, that’s right, Mexico. Even though their team was actually playing in Florida!

Oh happy days. I’ve still got my tournament poster on the wall.
Mark Lewis, SWFC (football fan, far more than England fan)


New UEFA rule
I had a wacky but strangely plausible idea, so I thought the natural place to share it would be on a Friday mailbox.

UEFA should make a rule that says that if a manager has his club qualify for Europe, that club is not allowed to sack him the following season. They could not be prevented from sacking a manager, but UEFA could disqualify them from that season’s competition (more fair) or the following one (more feasible.)

The benefits of this would be that managers would no longer talk about avoiding qualification for the Europa League, and that we would see less unreasonable sackings. One argument against it is that it would give the likes of Wenger a job for life, but no change there. Jokes aside, there are bylaws you could create to mitigate that. Thoughts?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


Ten notable tactical moves of the season
With one game to go, here are my 10 notable tactical moves of the season:

10) Tottenham’s back three against Watford. Allowed Ighalo through once, but a late winner made it look good.
9) Nemanja Matic as attacking midfielder. When paired with John Obi Mikel, told to go forward. Worked about as well as you’d expect.
8) Newcastle’s 4-2-3-1 with two DM’s. Rafa stabilizes the side, but the attack falls short.
7) Ashley Young as a number nine. Sometimes you think he does it just because he can.
6) Troy Deeney in a deeper role. The key to Watford’s surge.
5) Fernandinho on the right in the League Cup final. Got beat several times, but scored City’s only goal.
4) Bournemouth’s flying fullbacks. Eddie Howe stays true to his system, and it pays off.
3) Sunderland’s 4-1-4-1. Three DM’s + Defoe alone up front = survival.
2) Eric Dier in central midfield. The change that made it all possible.
1) Leicester City’s 4-4-2. An all-time classic.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


Relegated Scots
To help Kevin Walsh, Luimneach, I thought I would provide an easily digestible Scots relegated XI.

GK: Allan McGregor (relegated once with Hull)
RWB: Alan Hutton (relegated with Villa. Honorary mention for appearing for the relegated Mallorca)
LWB: Steven Whittaker (twice with Norwich)
CB: Russell Martin (twice with Norwich)
CB: Christian Dailly (played for relegated Blackburn 1998 and later relegated with West Ham)
CB: Steven Caldwell (relegated twice. Sunderland and Burley)
CM: Graham Dorrans (relegated twice. WBA and now Norwich)
CM: Nigel Quashie (4 times relegated and captain of this team)
ACM: Shaun Maloney (relegated with Wigan)
ST: Steven Fletcher (relegated twice. Wolves and Burnley)
ST: Kenny Miller (relegated twice. Wolves and Derby)

21 relegations shared between the 11 players. All fairly recently so I’m sure I missed a few pre 2000. This lot would stink the place out and be down by Christmas.
Cultured Peg (Steven Fletcher top scorer with 4 in 36)


Like many others I’m guessing, F365 is key to my lunch hour. I whip out my depressingly bland sandwiches, hoping that your website if not my food is peppered with some tasty content.

Yesterday, in brazen defiance of my well-established routine, I opened the mailbox upon my arrival into the office and was met with a sudden pang of hunger. It seems that I’ve inadvertently and embarrassingly conditioned myself (Joe Hart jokes aside) to associate F365 and the mailbox in particular with an imminent ‘meal’.

Has anyone else experienced other F365-related Pavlovian responses? Reaching for a tissue once a new ‘Portrait of an Icon’ piece is published? Reaching for another tissue when there’s been a development in Eva Carneiro’s legal case?
Eoin, Vancouver (Two lunchtime mailboxes, one dreadful lunchbox)

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